It's not fancy, it's not big and it's not clever, but the scrag end is delicious. For simple, honest opinions on restaurants, recipes, supper clubs and what not, you've come to the right place.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Hummus Bros, 37-63 Southampton Row, Holborn

One of the pitfalls of writing a food blog is that it mercilessly exposes personal taste. It’s easy enough to be objective about places if you’re a professional reviewer – after all, it’s not your money you’re spending, and there’ll always be another meal to try if this one doesn’t work out. But bloggers need deep pockets, or they need to be selective. And you (well, I) tend to select restaurants where you’re confident your money won’t be wasted, and where you’re comfortable you know what you’re talking about. So this blog is full of nice Italian restaurants, carnivores’ paradises and curry houses.

It’s unlikely I’d review a place like Hummus Bros unless I was invited (i.e. not paying). I like hummus as much as the next man (I quite like it), but it has too many negative associations for me to want to go to a restaurant dedicated to it. I’m not an over-gassy hippy, and nor do I want to be.

So, while it might not surprise you to discover that Hummus Bros is really rather good, it surprised me.

The evening was a meet-and-schmooze for bloggers. After leafing our way through the slight silly menu – 13 pages elaborating every single dish followed by one page with the actual menu on it – I ordered a main of fava beans, and some tabouleh. My guest went for a chunky beef main with a side of falafel salad. Some excellent pitta bread completed our food order.

Main dishes come surrounded by a palisade of hummus. It’s good hummus, but there’s far too much of it – a pot’s worth on the regular plates, I’d guess. My fava beans were salty and earthy, slathered in olive oil and extremely tasty. A long-boiled egg on top packed a rich and slightly smoky punch.

The beef chunks were slow-cooked and carried an intense tomato flavour, while the tzatziki that came with them was fiercely garlicky. Hummus made a relatively neutral contribution to both dishes, though it should be noted that stewed fava beans and pureed chickpea make for eloquent bowels.

The tabouleh was ok, but without the kind of zip the best versions have. Thankfully there was a bottle of lemon juice on the table, which perked it up quite a bit. Falafel was the only real disappointment of the evening – far too dry for my taste, though the salad it sat on was better.

I’d never had aloe vera juice before, but I’m a fan now. It initially tastes oddly like bubblegum, but then, for reasons inexplicable, keeps drawing you in to have more. Little chunks of the plant float around the drink nicely; it’s thirst-quenching and intriguing. Ginger and mint lemonade was another triumph.

For dessert, I had cheeky little Baklava. Nutty, syrupy and extremely sweet, these were exactly as they should be. My guest meanwhile went for the extraordinary Malabi. It’s a milk pudding very like panna cotta, but served with a terrific date honey, all dark thickness and bitter treacly flavour. At £1.50 a pop, this is ridiculously good, and ridiculously good value.

Indeed, perhaps the best thing about Hummus Bros is its price (though I didn’t pay for this meal). Our main, side, drinks, desserts and espressi would have come to about £23 pounds between the two of us. You could have a very decent lunch here for about £7. The restaurant is friendly and comfortable, and you can imagine a roaring takeaway lunch trade makes up for the odd quiet evening. As a convenient and economical option with often excellent food, it comes highly recommended.

Phil Letts’ take: 7/10 

Hummus Bros on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. Liking the sound of that aloe vera juice and the malabi best of all - never tried either!